The 20/80 Rule Of Forwarding The Action


“Imagination is more important than knowledge.
For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand,
while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
– Albert Einstein

Businesses are addicted to explaining. We want to know why things are the way they are, we want to find out who made that mistake, we want to explain how the error was made and we want to explain why we could not keep our agreements, like being in time for a meeting.

Explaining is a function of the rational mind; the rational mind loves to solve!
And there is absolutely value in explaining; science has allowed humankind to grown enormously by explaining how the human body and the laws of nature work.

But we are over-explaining. It has become all we do, and so we’ve lost our connection to our biggest gift: our creativity.

I often sit in meetings where a 100% of the time is used to explain things, events and behavior of people. It’s all very reactive and certainly not creative.

Creativity means: how can we forward the action? How can we create something from this?

Knowing what we know, what can we do that moves things forward?
Knowing what went wrong, what can we do today that will prevent this from happening?

Every meeting in the world would get 100x more productive if 20% of the time were spent explaining and 80% being used to create, to solve, to move the action forward.

But this starts a war between the ears.

Explaining involves the rational mind; it’s the part most people (mostly experts) are very comfortable with using. Creativity is different. It’s looking at things differently. You risk being wrong. You risk people not agreeing with you. You risk sounding dumb, uninformed or ridiculous. And most people are not willing to do that. And so they play safe. They explain or rationalize without moving things forward.

Leaders have to be creative if they want to be any effective. They have to stop hiding behind their expert role. Leaders have to “forward the action” for everyone in the team and themselves.

Forwarding the action means, for example, taking something presented, or something said by another employee, and building on it to expand its usefulness or potency, or to make it clearer or more readily accessible.

Authentic dissent can also forward action. There is obviously a range to “forwarding the action”.

On the other end of the range, what is not forwarding the action, would be distracting conversations, or making others wrong, or refusing to allow the discussion or presentation to go on, or refusing to accept something for consideration.